Tag Archives: Business Marketing

What Is a Local Citation?

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What Is a Local Citation

If you are a business owner in your community, you have probably heard about something called a local citation. You may have wondered what this term means. In simple terms, a local citation is any mention of your business on the internet. They can range from a partial citation such as a mention of your company name all the way to a complete citation that includes the company name, address, and phone number.

Does a Citation Need to Include a Link?

While a link back to your website within a citation can be helpful in giving your website an extra data point for search engines, it is not necessary in a local citation. Even without the link back to your website, the Google algorithm will still identify that your company was mentioned through the local citation information and give you credit for the mention. The more often your company is mentioned other websites, the greater your local ranking will be on search engines.

Structured Citation

One type of citation is a structured citation. These citations are located in a business listing directory such as:

  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • Mapquest
  • Yellowpages
  • Superpages
  • Any other online directory such as your local chamber of commerce website

These citations will include the most information about your business such as the company name, address, phone number, website, and even directions or a map to your location.

Yelp and Facebook also include an option for customer of your business to leave reviews or comments regarding your products or service. These reviews are often used by potential customers or clients when deciding whether or not to visit your establishment.

Unstructured Citations

An unstructured citation is simply a mention of your business information on any website that is not a business directory. There are many places to find unstructured citations such as:

  • Blogs
  • Magazine sites
  • Newspaper sites
  • Wikis

Unstructured citations may include a blog about your products or services or even a mention of special deals your company is currently offering. They may include a phone number or website link in addition to your company name but, this information is not required as long as your company name is mentioned.

Why Are Local Citations Important?

There are two main reasons that local citations are extremely important for your business. The first is to verify that your business exists to search engines such as Google. If the only mention of your business comes from your own website, many search engines will struggle to verify that you have a legitimate business. By having your company name mentioned on other reputable websites, the search engines can easily verify that your business exists.

Local citations will also help you to establish prominence for your business in search engine algorithms. Have you ever wondered how search engines rank the pages that are displayed at the top of the results list? The algorithms for these search engines factor in citations when ranking local search results. The more citations your company has on the web, the higher your company’s listing will rank in search results. The key to ranking higher in the search results is to get your company name and information mentioned as often as possible throughout a variety of websites.

Are Some Citations More Important Than Others?

While having your company name mentioned anywhere will help you, having it mentioned on certain websites will help more. For example, having your company mentioned on the white house website will be more beneficial than having it mentioned on a small-scale blog. Citation value is separated into different classifications of importance.

Core Search Engines

Search engines are not distributors of business data. They receive the data and categorize it when determining how to display the information in search results. These include Google, Bing, and Apple Maps.

Primary Data Sources

These are the data collectors that verify information from a variety of sources and distribute the information to other sites. They include InfoGroup, Acxiom, Localeze, and Factual.

Tier 1

Tier 1 sites are the prominent sites on Google and are often used by people who are searching for businesses. There are two types of sites listed in tier 1, generic and Hyper-Local and Niche sites.

Generic Sites

  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • Yellowpages
  • BBB

Hyper-Local and Niche

  • Lawyers.com
  • Avvo
  • Denver.com

Tier 2

Tier 2 sites are still prominent on Google search results but may be lesser known such as:

  • Yellowbook
  • Merchant Circle
  • HotFrog

Tier 3

These sites are not frequently listed in Google searches and are not very well known by the general public.

  • Yellowise
  • Local Database
  • My Local Services

Tier 4

These sites have a very low authority and are rarely heard of.

  • IGotBiz.com
  • UnitedStatesSeek.com

When looking at citation options to get your business more attention from search engines, it is important to consider the quality of the citation.

Consistency Is Important

When it comes to local citations, it is important that each citation for your company lists accurate information. To do this, you will want to look at each site that features a citation for your business and make sure that there is only one listing and that the listing contains accurate information about your business. You will want to focus most of your attention on the Core Search Engines, Primary Data Sources, and Tier 1 sites. You should then verify your tier 2 citations as well to ensure accuracy within those sites. Tier 3 and 4 are the lowest priority when verifying citation accuracy as they will not make or break your SEO.

How to Build Local Citations

There are five important steps to follow when creating citations for your business. It is important to follow all five steps to ensure the best possible results.

Step One

To create listings for your business you will first need an email address. It is always recommended when doing anything related to your company to use a company email address rather than your personal email address. This means an email address that is associated with your company’s domain not a Gmail or Yahoo address. Having a company domain email address will cause your listings to be more trusted and more likely to go live after creation.

Step 2

Be sure that your name, address, and phone number are the same on every site that your listing appears. The formatting may be different on individual sites and that is fine as long as the information contained in the listing is correct. Check to make sure no numbers have been inverted or swapped in the address and phone number fields and that there are no spelling errors in the company and street name. These errors may cause your listing to be less trustworthy and delay it going live.

Step 3

Read through all category choices and choose the ones that best describe the type of business you own. Then be sure to select the same categories on each site you are posting the listing to. This consistency will make it easier for search engines to verify your business and see that it is a legitimate company.

Step 4

Add as much detail as you can without going overboard. You can add photos, your logo, a description of your company, hours of operation, contact information for social media accounts and much more.

Step 5

Claim your listing. Once you have created the listing on a site, most will ask you to verify the listing before allowing it to go live. This verification process will be done via email or phone. For phone verification, the company will call your business and request that you enter a pin number you had previously received or give you a pin number to enter online. Verified listings have more authority and a higher level of trust.

Finding Citation Sources

There are a few ways you can go about finding citation sources for your company listing. Which option you choose will depend on how much time and money you have to devote to the project.

Hire a Company

If you have the money to invest in the project but lack the time to do it yourself, hiring a company to do the legwork for you is a great option. These companies will find the most reliable citation sources for businesses in your local area and compile a list of the top citation sources for your local area.

Search for Citation Sources

You may also choose to search for citation sources on your own. This process can be lengthy but the rewards for your company will be great. Begin by finding the top national citation sources. These may include:

  • Google My Business
  • Apple Maps
  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • Yellowpages
  • MapQuest
  • Citysearch
  • MerchantCircle

Once you have compiled this list of national listing sites, you can then look for citations based on your business category and location. Begin a search that contains your company type, city, and state.

Review that results of other citations for similar businesses. You can do this a general search or search out specific competitors and review their citations. This will help you to determine which direction to go while creating your own citations. You can accomplish this by searching for the following:

  • (city) Business directory
  • (city) Directory
  • (city) Business Listings
  • (keyword) Directory
  • (keyword) Business Directory
  • (keyword) Business Listings

When determining how to best optimize your local SEO, citations are considered one of the basic foundations for any company. Citations should be created before you focus on engagement, content, and link building. One of the greatest parts of local citations is that you never have to worry about them again unless any part of your business information changes. These changes may include moving to a new location, new phone number, make changes to the company name, etc. If any of these things occur, it is important to update your citation listings to maintain the most accurate information.

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Why Guilt Is Good for Marketing and Building Emotional Response

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Why Guilt Is Good for Marketing and Building Emotional Response

Marketing strategists know the importance of hitting consumers right where it hurts. Depending on the product or service, the creative pitch and delivery should tap into an emotion. Anger, joy, dread, anticipation, doubt, fear, confidence, guilt, or shame, emotion is what drives people to relate to a given advertising message. And it’s this relatability that will hold their interest, allow them to process the message and hopefully, engage response.

We Are Glutton for Punishment

It turns out that guilt is more than a quick go-to, and I might add desperate, tactic used by parents in getting their kids to do what they’re asking. The art of persuasion in marketing is used by creative gurus to make the audience believe that they will feel some sense of guilt if they miss the advertising opportunity presented. Moreover, if the viewers give the guilt-ridden message attention, there must be a moment that resonates with them and further accentuates the guilt already in place. Here’s an example.

The Blame Game

In a society that shudders at the thought of being accountable for anything, no one likes to be reminded of a faux pas, mistake, indiscretion or a flat out epic failure. When it happens, many quickly jump at the chance to point the proverbial finger on someone or something else as being the source of the snafu. Yes, there’s a lot of finger pointing going on—just look at our politics and how the media portrays these cat-and-mouse antics that denigrate personal and business brand.

But blame seemingly raises the eyebrows of consumers getting them to stop, watch, and share the information. In fact, this isn’t counterculture anymore but the natural process of social media channels in action. Decades earlier, when it was good business practice to admit to a problem and fix it or put out a retraction correcting the misinformation, there is no such content animal in existence today. In fact, we thrive on marketing mistakes and often devise them on purpose. Remember, bad press is still – good press.

Part public service announcement, part big pharma-to-physician-to-consumer play, this TV spot hits parents and their teenagers hard by pitting them against one another through the sharing of vital health information, and laying some heavy blame. The advertiser, Merck, provides new knowledge to its audience while simultaneously shaming them for not knowing the info beforehand. Compelling as it is, this shame and indirect blame reinforces the importance of the message, leaving the audience guilty unless they act on the message… or forever be held accountable by their children. A cheap shot? Manipulation at its highest level? Absolutely. Is it effective? Just ask any parent that’s seen it on television because if they remember then it worked, right?

The Fault of Our Own

There are certain subjects that get people and their panties rolled up too tight: children, aging parents, fitness, education, personal space, and health to name a few. But when it comes to diet and weight loss, it reigns supreme on hitting people’s buttons on the woulda-shoulda-coulda rant. Though it may not always be expressed, many Americans would own the notion that they do need to lose, at least, five pounds. But oh the list of reasons why it isn’t happening. I could get rich quick if I could cite them all.

Not only is our guilt, laziness, and frustration about diet and weight loss a popular topic of conversation, it sets consumers up for the continual cycle of triumph and defeat. It’s what weight loss program developers and fat-free product manufacturers hope for and make a hefty profit on. Nonetheless, people are like sheep. And advertisers and their clients love sheep.

Dangers of Guilt in Advertising

You’ve probably run across individuals in your life who appear to thrive on misery. It must be a ‘thing’ considering the programming across media outlets echoes the sentiment. However, there is a flip side or two to this type of story. America likes a good amount of sap with their misery. It’s our way of coming out ahead, rooting for the underdog and winning, or holding on to hope, faith, and that it matters and makes a difference. This Fiber One commercial blends the bad and the good, well.

When we use guilt in marketing, it’s important to remember who the target audience is and how they are likely to respond.

Consider adding the following to your guilt-ridden messaging:

  • Happy ending
  • Humor
  • Solution-based final thought or call-to-action
  • Non-profit or charitable mention

Other than the misery-seekers and negative Nancys you may know, guilt is not usually something we like to share. Typically, we keep our guilt hidden or quickly deflect it with a good shot of blame sent elsewhere. But if you have to use guilt to give your marketing campaign the attention it deserves, make sure to give the audience a way out of feeling bad, by offering something that feels good.

Shame and Guilt, the Double Whammy

As risky as it can be, there are inherent benefits to using guilt in your marketing as it is representative of some of the twisted aspects of our interpersonal relationships. Think of a best friend, partner, or spouse. In the best of circumstances, you have gained a level of trust where you feel ‘safe’ in sharing exactly how you feel.

Unfortunately, this isn’t just about the compliments, thoughtfulness, praises and other displays of appreciation. It also includes those moments that really put you in disbelief, shock, and awe. And it is in these moments that we may not feel empathy or sympathy, but are compelled to remind the other person of their idiocy. Yeah, reality bites.

Alka-Seltzer found the sweet spot in this human condition and nailed it on their award-winning campaign from decades ago. Some may say that the copywriter and creative director were way ahead of their time. Although, I’m thinking that indigestion is timeless.

Watch What You Say and the Way You Say It

When did having ‘no filter’ be more acceptable than common courtesy? This positioning trait can be effective in advertising. But before you lead with content that emotionally shakes consumers without giving them any positive recourse when it’s over, ask yourself and your marketing team this: How would it make you feel? Do they enjoy eating a crow sandwich topped with guilt-flavored jelly? Does it shame them into making a change? And if they simply start sobbing, blame it on the writers. It’s always our fault.

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Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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How Negativity Impacts Business Relationships and Ruins Marketing Campaigns

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How Negativity Impacts Business Relationships and Ruins Marketing Campaigns

Life circumstances have a way of setting the tone for who we are and how we perceive the world around us. While most of us may try to leave our personal world outside of the workplace, it’s obvious that to err on the side of ‘fail’ in that would be prudent. But why? Has negativity gone wild? Moreover, is it an accepted norm instead of a character flaw formerly sought to overcome? When negativity impacts business relationships, do we have the mental and emotional chops to strategically maneuver it in our favor?

Perhaps it depends on whether you see a glass half empty, half full, or ample with opportunity…

If Nothing Is Off the Table, Be Careful About How You Set It

Remember the days when you were a mere toddler or seven years old when your mind was full of wonder. The most difficult concept to learn (just ask your parents) was the term and acceptance of the word “No”. (I know a few adults that still have trouble with this.)

Is it because we are naturally hardwired for “Yes” or positive thought? Well if so, something happened between birth and the here and now. The good vibes have seemingly taken a back seat in our mainstream and it’s adversely affecting what we expect of ourselves, others, and corporate cultures.

Fear Breeds Fear and Discontent

Some say happiness is a choice. You wake up each morning and can decide how you perceive the day. Sure, a positive outlook is great, until the day comes at you like a runaway freight train. If you have the mental agility to step out of its way or embrace it head on, one could call you a survivalist. Notwithstanding that, over time, the freight train of pessimism will impact your business dealings, future relationships and potential for referrals.

If you encapsulate the bad sentiments that seem to supercharge human reaction and implement them into product or service marketing strategies, as many companies do, it will garner you more attention. But what kind of attention? And would you know what to do with it?

Where Negativity Breeds, Brand Reputation Follows

Where Negativity Breeds, Brand Reputation FollowsLet’s get back to you, this morning, when you decided to wake up on the right side of the bed. (Even if you didn’t, pretend you did.) If you’re a W-2 employee, you’re making your way to your job site. If you’re a 1099 contractor, you’re either heading to a client meeting, about to enter into a conference call, or nursing a cup of coffee just the way you like it from the comfort of your living room sofa, wearing your favorite sweats.

No matter how you show up at work, ask yourself this question as it relates to negativity: Are you part of the problem or the solution? Then again, if negativity is part of the productivity that oils the corporate machine, your adaptability to this mantra may be a source of job security. If you do it well, how effective are you at turning the negativity off at home? Something to think about.

After a brief personal assessment, if you’re finding that pessimism is more prevalent than not in your life, how many people does it touch? And how many do they touch?

Adulting can be damaging to your wellbeing. If only we can revert the clock and be that cantankerous child who cannot accept the word “No’.

Unfortunately, we crave the word “No” and all its direct and indirect monikers because that’s what feeds our interests and conversations, on- and offline. Did social media content force the hand of human disgruntlements or is it the other way around? The cause and effect of negativity gets lost in the blur of rage, shared.

Company Culture or Counterculture Is Like an Hourglass

The spine-tingling phrase of “being a company fit” continues to create a stir in employees and job candidates. When you’re in the company, it doesn’t take long before you can distinguish between the culture they want to emulate and the reality of what is. But employee or client dissatisfaction can quickly alter company culture into something best kept hidden, though seldom remains under wraps.

Company culture used to be created and illustrated from the top down, from C-level execs, to managers and their reports.  Naysayers to traditional work culture were once thought of as a subculture and limited to a small grouping of employees and contractors.

But now, because of social media, dissatisfaction can generate and ooze from the bottom up. If this goes unchecked, it quickly casts a wide net across social platforms affecting internal relations, client interface and trust, marketing reach, and perceived value overall.  But by shaking things around, you can get right side up again—unless negativity feels good.

If You Dish It Out, Better Be Ready to Take It

The standard fare for any business marketing endeavor will include a mention of one’s product or service features and benefits. For many companies, that approach isn’t good enough. Sometimes, advertising campaigns need to step outside of a brand positioning’s comfort zone and do the unthinkable. For many, this means resorting to tactics that take the pressure of a lackluster product and focus on all that’s wrong with their competitors.

This can be done in fun using humor or through mere innuendo, common across the decades of fast food, beer, and soda wars: Coke vs. Pepsi, and Bud Light vs. Miller Lite and Coors Lite, to name a couple.

Negative ad campaigns can be effective, as long as the business and the brand is well established and is likable.  However, companies do utilize negativity in their marketing strategy when drawing attention, any attention, is the reigning goal. This can be formulated as an internal or external strategy, though keeping things in balance can be challenging.

How to Put Good in the Bad

If you’re daring and need a good kick in the butt-of-marketing, adding a little content sneer, on-air mention, or balls out assault on your competitors. A little guerilla marketing, some bad taste, and who knows you could be the talk of the virtual town.

Mud-slinging? You betcha!

I recall working at a peer-revered terrestrial FM radio station here in the Phoenix metro area some years ago. We were part of a larger broadcasting company that had but four stations here in town: three rock radio formats on FM, and one sports radio channel on AM. Within the rock radio stations, there was music programming cross over between two out of three stations, such as:

Classic Rock > Album Rock > Hard Rock/Alternative

As you can see from the above programming flow, the album rock station shared some of their audience with either of the other stations, though seldom did listeners CUME of add TSL from classic rock to hard rock. This put the pressure on the album rock station to perform. And yes, that’s where I worked as an on-air talent, writer, and producer.

You might think that management thought it wise to market the stations collectively, position each as part of a “powerhouse of rock ‘n roll”. But that was not to be the case and here’s why. It was all about the advertising revenue (isn’t it always). The broadcast company would make more money if they kept the stations segmented, and, competing against one another from the inside out.

Marketing dollars were shifted each quarter, from one station to another. On-air talent blasted their peers at the other stations, live on their shows, without abandon. These negative jabs spilled over into audience sentiments, raising radio wars across the airwaves. Advertisers took advantage of the emotional fire and spent more money at multiple stations.

Here’s what was achieved:

  • Greater employee station loyalty
  • Greater internal work ethic
  • Low employee turnaround
  • Increase in listener retention
  • Stronger brand identity
  • Stronger brand awareness
  • Increase market reach
  • Increase in CUME and TSL (from station to station)

I wouldn’t recommend this approach today as I’m not sure it would turn out well with the added traction that social media provides. Because what you say and how you say it lives on forever in the virtual space.

Are Social Smut Campaigns the Best You Can Do?

Statistics show that the increased rate of mental illness diagnoses and suicides today are correlated to social media presence and how we, as humans, gage its importance. As long as we, professional marketers, know where our audiences live, why not up our ante on how to approach them and leave the emotional slash and burn behind?

Until we can move past the divisive attitudes of winning vs. nothing-else-matters, negativity will continue to have rightful place in society—but at a cost. Even with all that we know about the impact of scorn and skepticism within media messaging, it remains a single key differentiator in how political elections are won.

Keeping a Lid on Sour Grapes

There’s an age-old saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” Maybe we need to revisit that. As content media experts, we need to take ownership of our messaging because it affects our audiences. That’s our job, right? With all this power, perhaps putting some fresh eyes on irresponsible negative spins may help change the emotional and behavioral tide that is hurting our communities. And it starts from within.

Businesses Keep It Real on Social Networks

One of the most proactive practices you can put in to your business and its marketing is to make sure you have dedicated team members who do nothing more than monitor, manage, and respond to your social channels.

It’s a quick, reliable way to get an idea of how your customers and the public perceive your culture, your brand, and your products. In addition, active social engagements in real time allow you the opportunity to persuade opinion towards the positive, nurture the followers you do have, and build new relationships.

Are you ready to get an honest opinion about your own business culture? Does your mission take a misstep when it comes to your internal people? Do you walk your talk?

Send out a survey to your employees and make sure it’s set up for anonymous responses. There’s no reason to worry that the answers won’t be honest. Remember, people want to share their voice and be heard.

And if you’ve already decided that this will result in a bad turnout, perhaps you should get your negativity in check.

Need a Second Opinion? We Can Audit Your Social Channels and Help Identify the Risks

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Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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How to Gain Public Support for Marijuana Dispensary Marketing

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How to Gain Public Support for Marijuana Dispensary Marketing

Business owners and the employees that work in the medical marijuana community may not think about whether they have public support for their marijuana dispensary. And why should they when the primary focus is on serving the people who already find value in their products and services. But there’s a larger picture here that affects the long term livelihood of any cannabis-based company and it’s centered around neighborhood sentiment about the industry as a whole. If this speaks to you, without the support of local municipalities, businesses, and the people who live nearby, your marijuana store won’t have a leg to stand on.

Know the Legal Challenges

Enthusiasm is great when you want to open your doors with the intention of serving the public well. But intention doesn’t pay the bills; your customers help you do that. The playing field for the pot industry is tightly woven with regulations and laws that may have loopholes for constructing workarounds, if you can find them.

Although marijuana laws differ from state to state and invariably with the federal level as well, following specific laws pertinent to your state of business is paramount to setting yourself up for success. And while some states may seem to have more forgiving or gracious pathways to starting a cannabis business, government strategies have long been set up in a manner that won’t be in your favor.

This is why you need to hire legal experts in marijuana, real estate, and intellectual property. Here’s why.

Online Aspects

There are intricacies involved in the medical marijuana industry that don’t enter into any other business. And if your cannabis business is going to have a website, which it should, intellectual property may be involved. In addition, since the marketing of marijuana has other laws that must be abided by (especially when marketing products for sale online), you’ll need to know what you can say and visually display, and what you can’t. An attorney with expertise in cannabis will know how to properly draft the terms and conditions of your website, as well as what’s needed in the physical location of your operation.

Real Estate Aspects

Searching for and securing the right space for your marijuana business can be a lofty battle, likened to a chess game that you’re stepping into – with a deficit.

It isn’t about knowing what you need today to run effectively and efficiently, but foreseeing your needs one, three, and five years down the road. Even if you’re looking to rent space from a property owner, (if they are good with your business model) adjustments will most likely be required to accommodate your needs. Tenant improvements can easily be worked into the lease agreement. But unless you’re taking up an entire strip center or planning on being housed in a standalone facility, you will have to share your intentions with nearby tenants, property owners and homeowners.

This is where the challenges can come at you from all sides. We witnessed this in Phoenix, Arizona.

Embrace the Negative Nancys

A desired location for a medical marijuana dispensary is more than just logistics. The property has to come with the right zoning. If it doesn’t, a zoning variance is required. This is where it gets sticky. To prepare for the zoning hearing, other public meetings will take place designed to help the cannabis business acquire positive sentiment behind their proposed zoning variance request.

Here’s what can happen, and does.

By proposing your cannabis enterprise to the local residents (business and homes) you will be opening yourself, your personal and business brand, to a litany of ridicule and judgment. Not everyone is an advocate of what you do. In fact, there remains a lot of fear about it in the minds of many naysayers.

Gain Public Support

To have a viable shot at easing their fears, perhaps even removing them, give them a forum to speak. Make sure you listen to them. What the naysayers will tell you often provides the clues to what you’ll need to do to quell their negativity. If you can do that, they are less likely to show up at the zoning variance hearing and derail your plans for occupancy.

If a nearby homeowner is concerned about his family’s welfare and the risks that a cannabis store might bring, explain the characteristics of your security protocols. If privacy is an issue (should neighboring property back or side to the proposed cannabis shop location) discuss how to remedy it by adding height on an existing perimeter wall. Share your operating hours with them and come up with a plan that everyone can live with.

Marijuana Industry Advocacy Is a Full Time Job

Just like in any industry, not everyone is going to love you. But staying cognizant of potential setbacks fueled by misinformation or unflattering public sentiments will help you avert the same.

Top Tips for Public Support in Marijuana Dispensary Marketing

Public relations will have an impact on marijuana dispensary marketing, be it good or bad. To arm yourself and create a strategy ahead of time, you’ll need to map out potential challenges. Once you’ve identified them, generate a list of solutions for each challenge. This will save you time, energy, and money because you’re eliminating prospective setbacks to your business launch that would come with being positioned on the defensive, instead of the offensive stance.

Tips to Stay On Top of the Public Outcry

  • Stay current on state marijuana laws
  • Stay current on local legislation
  • Know key players in local government who are marijuana advocates
  • Forge positive relationships with other business owners who will speak well of you
  • Attend community and charity events
  • Host neighborhood meetings to show local support
  • Retain solid legal representation who knows the marijuana industry
  • Partner with a marijuana dispensary marketing agency
  • Keep facility security and employee professionalism as a priority

The Sweet Spot between Outreach and Off the Grid

It’s been said that people can’t criticize you if they don’t know you exist. True. But with easy access to people, places, and all the what-ifs and what-fors that fall within them, a point, click or swipe on social media makes staying silent a virtual impossibility, pun intended.

While it may be an initial preference to keep your cannabis business on the down low, it’s not a strategy that will give you any traction and credibility. If you want to be a leader within your community, take on what’s necessary to get you ahead, use the existing laws and regulations to your advantage, and leave the rest behind.

See How Public Support and Strategic Marijuana Dispensary Marketing Go Hand in Hand

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Why Agency and Client Business Marketing Expectations Disconnect

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Why Agency and Client Business Marketing Expectations Disconnect

Imagine yourself sitting at a negotiating table. You could be the business owner looking for the best way to market your company products or services to a captive audience. You might be the marketing executive, hoping to secure a new client. But no matter which side of the table you find yourself, there is an unspoken, yet crucial, aspect to forging this relationship. Hidden between the lines in even the best drafted agreement is the business marketing expectations that reside within each party. And seldom do the twain meet. Here’s why.

Not Everyone Speaks the Same Marketing Language

You may know your business, but it doesn’t mean you know marketing. On the flip side, marketing agencies know the nuances behind great copy and show-stopping design (or they should) but don’t count on them being experts at the differences between lug nuts. But if you manufacture lug nuts to a variety of industries, for example, how do you know which creative agency can help you effectively share the information, reestablish your brand, and build a following all about lug nuts? You don’t, initially.

Lug Nuts Don’t Help If They Don’t Fit

Allow me to expand on this makeshift scenario. You are the lug nut company. We Are Ego is the marketing agency looking to pitch and land lug nuts as a client. Here’s how a typical meeting might go down, whether you’re working at getting the account or desperately trying to keep it.

The We Are Ego agency believes they know everything about marketing. Its owners will tell you that as a fact. As such, they pitch you and pontificate in detail about how their knowledge and experience supersedes what you know about lug nuts. If they’re any good at their pitch, they’ll have you believing that. And if they’re just as talented at convincing your customers that you are the lug nut kings of the industry, this relationship will be golden.

But where there’s ego, there’s noise.

Your client’s customers won’t focus on the noise. Sure, they might be intrigued by the ad or promotion delivery. They could be intrigued by the marketing message or can’t get enough of the latest product offering. But the bottom line to the lug nut customer is… the lug nut.

Dialing this back a bit further, advertising agencies of the past reveled in their ability to spin their audiences through solid creative. Today, it takes a back seat to the most important aspect of marketing: The people who will consume your product or service. People are primary. Period…

…now back at the negotiating table. You’ve got two different kinds of people. How can you make them fit into each other’s square hole?

The Digital Debacle

If the lug nut company has a CTO, then you can banter beautifully about the analytics of social channels and the scalability of your preferred web design template and how it will lessen the cost and down-time in production, if they switch to your platform. Unfortunately, for the lug nut management representatives at the table representing sales, operations, manufacturing, legal, and logistics, all you’ve done is throw a slew of terminology at them that might as well be Greek. Because it is.

You haven’t impressed them. The lug nut team now feels out of step, out of touch, and belittled. How can they gage your value when they have no idea what you said? And so much for building trust. Good job We Are Ego. Great way to pitch a prospect (sarcasm overload here).

Technology and digital means of communication have allowed us to touch more people faster, but with much less efficacy. It has desensitized our ability to connect on the human level, which is where you truly need to be to reach people and make a positive, lasting impression. Isn’t that what marketing is all about? This goes for client interface too.

How did we get so lost in this data driven society?

Some People Read But Nobody Listens

Agency and Client Business Marketing Expectations Disconnect This is a story of the chicken and the egg. The internet has reset the bar on how many media impressions a person can take per second and, with that, the attention level needed to take it all in. The result is that people cannot nor care not to truly digest what’s being thrown at them.

In addition, now that we (consumers) are expected to process more information at a quicker rate, we have less time to spend on each marketing message. This is a challenge for the marketing agency. Getting your creative to craft messaging that grabs the attention of the reader/viewer is the key to bringing a lug nut brand to market and growing it from there.

Unfortunately, people don’t read. And when it comes to marketing agency-to-client business agreements… these people don’t read either.

Where Egos Talk, Pigs Fly

Then there’s the art of listening. What? Exactly. People are generally more worried about what they are going to say than concern themselves with whatever it is that you just said. Right. This brings new meaning to the term circular conversation. People talk but the communication doesn’t have a purpose and seldom goes anywhere. Isn’t that productive?

We’re still at that negotiating table. While this meeting may just be an initial client pitch for their business, negotiations between a marketing agency and a client are always taking place – every time they communicate.

Swallow that truth, and you might change your communications best practices.

Marketing Agency and Client-Side Etiquette

  • Say what you mean
  • Mean what you say
  • Document it

The above points may require some extra work on both agency and client but it will save countless hours of frustration and heightened emotions along the way. And it will save your relationship, instead of having to salvage it.

If you’re the agency, perhaps you prefer boasting about your creative portfolio, stellar accounts, and trophy wall full of awards. Gloating doesn’t make pigs or clients fly. But some agencies try. They try.

Revisit Conversations, Often

Think back on the last conversation you had with your marketing agency or member of your internal marketing team. You have a recollection about a web-based initiative, the deliverables needed and the associated deadlines. There was scope creep involved but the deadlines stayed the same.

Unfortunately, that was just the part of that prior conversation that you chose to remember. The marketing guru emphatically remembers that the deadlines got pushed, because of scope creep.

People tend to remember what they want to remember especially when it serves them best. However, had there been additional conversations about the shift in scope, the misunderstanding would be caught and addressed earlier, without the agency/client standoff.

Right, Wrong and Fair

My father once told me, “Business is like life. No one ever said it was going to be fair.” The ins and outs of the marketing agency and client relationship parallel that statement. There will be times in your partnership (that’s what it should be) where volatility will rise and patience will falter. It’s okay to have differing viewpoints on what will work in marketing and what won’t. The essence of your shared dynamic is in realizing you want to achieve the same goals. How you get there may be the source of contention, which isn’t bad.

Opposing marketing ideologies keeps the agency and the client on their professional toes, acquiescing into learning new things, and staying competitive. And in that – everyone wins.

Establish the Preferred Method of Chatter

Have you heard about the 5 Languages of Love? I wouldn’t bestow those onto your business relations; however, there are languages of communication. Depending on many factors, every person will have their own preferred method for communication.

  • Text
  • Email
  • Phone call
  • Video call
  • Face-to-face

Whether the reasoning behind the preference is convenience, audio or visual sensitivity, as well as a combination of both, make sure to ask what the best form of communication is per agency and client representatives.

Restate the Obvious

Be it a phone conversation, text message, video conference or email correspondence, send a follow up communication and reiterate the major points covered in the communication. State your understanding of the takeaways from it, as well as the next steps needed. Then ask the other party to confirm your understanding or provide counterpoints that differ, in writing.

This will serve both sides well in the event of scope creep, memory loss or momentary lapses of reason during an overview of marketing budget, performance metrics or creative campaign presentation.

Nothing Can Replace a Face-to-Face

Most of us have been guilty of sending an email to the wrong person and hitting “Reply All” instead of “Forward” or “Reply”. What about your ill-thought response to a client or agency message? When you perceive it the wrong way and blew an incident way out of proportion.

Digital communication snafus happen. Often.

Derail the damage done by adding a monthly face-to-face with your client. If a client isn’t local, work in a trip to their office at least once a quarter or have them come to you. It’s the best way to get a comprehensive understanding of who they are, if they’re confident in your abilities, and whether they truly like you. Does that even matter?

Yaaass. People prefer to work with people they like. If a client has found two different marketing agencies with similar reputations and solid performance benchmarks, agency personality and likeability are the tipping point to securing the account.

Your Contract Is Your Friend

It may not be fun to enter into a business agreement between agency and client with a litigious mindset, but it’s worth its weight in preventing hassle down the road.

A well-crafted contract is your friend. A solid agreement provides the foundational support needed when missteps happen over the course of the marketing agency/client association.

But don’t think that the marketing service contract is all about numbers. Of course the budget, monthly retainer, KPIs and ROI is important. But what blurs the numbers and the mechanisms to achieve them are expectations that get glossed over from one side to the other.

Can you avoid assumptions borne from expectations? More than you might think.

Add specific provisions into the contract:

  • Cost for changes to deliverables
  • Cost for scope creep (production and timelines)
  • Call out preferred communications to be used

In addition to the above, revisit the contract (internally) every 90 days. You’ll know if you (agency or client) are in accord with the terms and conditions and can make adjustments before the other side calls you out on it. If you feel that a modification should be made to the contract, consider drafting an Addendum and scheduling a face to face to discuss the matter.

Here’s what can happen if you don’t.

The Agency Is the Last to Know

You’ve never been asked to meet with the business owner. But you received a call out-of-the-blue and now find yourself doing the two-hour road trip late on a Friday morning to get there. But you’re prepared. You’ve got the latest monthly reports ready to be presented showing the steady increase in site visits, social engagements, and followers. With any luck, you should be receiving the final edit to the latest video production creative has completed and know it will “Wow” them.

But something happened between contract and expectations that was never discussed.

You enter the conference room and find 10 angry-looking executives who scowl at your very presence. Instead of presenting numbers, representative of the fruits of your labor, you receive a lashing of untruths relayed in expletives. The core accusations?

  • Inconsistent communication
  • Skewing performance numbers
  • Missed deadlines

Justifiable? Not according to the contract. Unfortunately, the contract can be perceived in multiple ways. (Isn’t that how attorneys secure ongoing employment?)

This client/agency encounter didn’t end well, though it could have.

If the Relationship Can’t Be Saved, No Need for Sour Grapes

Never burn a bridge in business. It’s short-sighted, like cutting off your nose to spite your face and almost as painful.

Regardless of how you believe the other party wronged you, this is all temporary. And if you’ve served your client well, let them go gracefully. Time will show truth. They may come back at some point in the future when they see the value of your business and what you brought to the table.

Should that happen, follow the guidelines in this blog. But before you e-sign on the dotted line, come to a place where agency/client expectations meet and egos are left at the door.

Real Communication Brings Real Results, Faster. Ask Us How

Avatar for Melanie Stern

Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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